Saturday, 5 September 2009

Bitter Suite by Timothy Horn

Bitter Suite, exhibition at the de Young Museum, San Francisco 2008

Bitter Suite, exhibition at the de Young Museum, San Francisco 2008.
Photo by Jason Schmidt for the New York Times

"The Australian artist Timothy Horn has a fondness for taking historical objects out of context and altering their scale and materials. He made a Chippendale-inspired sconce in rubber, and has enlarged 18th-century jewelry in scale to create large wall pieces. But he has outdone himself with “Timothy Horn: Bitter Suite,” an exhibition that opens June 14- October 12, 2oo8 at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The three large-scale works that make up the show were inspired by objects in the decorative-arts collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (which include the de Young and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor), and by the rags-to-riches story of Alma Spreckels, the colorful collector whose sugar fortune was used to found the Legion of Honor museum, which opened in 1924.

Sugar, not surprisingly, is a dominant theme. “Mother-Load,” shown here, is a child-size Cinderella carriage encrusted in crystallized rock sugar. It is Horn’s take on a gilded 18th-century Neapolitan sedan chair that Spreckels used as a phone booth in her Pacific Heights mansion. Sugar also sparkles on “Diadem,” a 300-pound chandelier; only “Sweet Thing,” a giant drop-earring that draws on the tradition of ormolu-mounted Chinese porcelains, is sugar free. Horn also makes reference to the 16th-century practice of creating elaborate table decorations out of sugar. But as someone who describes his work as exploring “refinement versus vulgarity,” he was fascinated by Spreckels’s not-quite-fairy-tale life (she had distant relationships with her children and struggled for acceptance by San Francisco society). “What we strive for and what we get are two different things,” Horn said. Bittersweet indeed."
- Pilar Viladas, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, June 1, 2008.
Mother-Load 2008 1Mother-Load 2008 2
Mother-Load 2008
Crystallized rock sugar, ply-wood, steel
9ft.6in. x 6ft. x 5ft. 6in.
Photo by Jason Schmidt

Mother-Load (detail)
Mother-Load (detail)
Photo by Jason Schmidt

Diadem 1Diadem 2
Diadem 2008
Crystallized rock sugar, steel, shellac, electric light fixtures
9ft x 5ft diameter
Photo by Jason Schmidt

Diadem (detail)
Diadem (detail)
Photo by Jason Schmidt

Sweet Thing 1Sweet Thing 2
Sweet Thing 2008
Mirrored blown glass.nickel-plated bronze
50 x 36 x 9 inches
Photo by Jason Schmidt

SweetThing (detail) 1SweetThing (detail) 2
SweetThing (detail)
Photo by Jason Schmidt

a+. timothy horn

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